Let me be clear, we love our children. We enjoy their energy, their laughter, and their curiosity. No matter what, we'll always love them. Even if we don't understand choices they make.
Last night, our three-year-old refused to go to bed before the Presidential debate. Since I was hoping for some adult time with my husband and a friend, I kept him upstairs for the first hour of the debate. Once it hit 10 o'clock and he showed no signs of tiredness, we headed downstairs to watch the debate.
Noah, sitting on the couch next to his uncle Jason began talking about the debate.
"Uncle Jason, the blue guy is kind of like you, and the red guy is kind of like me."
I interjected, "Noah are you sure you think the red guy is like you?"
Noah walked up to the TV, checked Romney out, smiled and shook his head. "Uncle Jason, the blue guy is like you. The red guy is me. The red guy is going to win! He's going to win win win!"
Ash and I joked about Noah possibly being a Republican. We all laughed as I posted a status that said, "Noah is rooting for Romney. My biggest fear realized!"
After more cheering, affirmations for Romney and declarations of winners, Noah fell asleep. I couldn't help but think about what it would mean if Noah is in fact a Republican. It's not something that occurred to me before last night. Surely, two progressive parents that love each other, love arugula, love the Democratic party and their children, would raise future Democrats. Right? Right?
Please, believe me when I say, I'm not saying there is anything wrong with Republicans. I'm sure Republicans are nice people. In fact, we have Republican friends. It's just we never thought that one of our children might be a Republican. Has it been painful for him at the dinner table? We watch MSNBC sometimes on weekend mornings while we're making breakfast. Is that why he gets quiet when we talk about politics? Does he think we don't love him because we sometimes make jokes about Republicans? I can't help but wonder if it's because of the phase I went through at 16 where I thought I might be a conservative. There was even a trip to DC my junior year of high school with the Junior Statesmen of America, where I sat on the floor of the house and voted very conservatively for many issues. It's not something I am proud of, but it is part of my journey. Something I had to explore. Eventually, I thought I might be an Independent that could vote for the Republicans and the Democrats. For me that was a phase. I eventually found myself firmly on the left of the aisle. So much so that I even went door-to-door for John Kerry in 2004. No one went door-to-door for John Kerry but I did. That's how left I swing.
I took time to think last night about what happened during the debates. Had we missed the signs? Was this the first time Noah tried to express his political beliefs to us? Then, it clicked. Noah's favorite shirt has an elephant on it wearing sunglasses. He loves that shirt so much he has three. He sometimes wears it to bed. He cries when we take it off of him. When we go to the zoo, he shows so much interest in the elephants. When he was younger, we traveled to San Diego, and at that whole amazing zoo, he only wanted to see the elephants! And when I have arugula salads and offer to share them with his sister and him? The baby happily chomps on mouthfuls of the arugula, but Noah? He's never touched it. He often tells me that I told him not to eat leaves outside so he can't eat the salad.
All this time, the signs have been there. He loves red shirts and red cars. When I asked him to share a cookie with his sister recently, he said she needed to get her own. After a while, he broke her off one tiny crumb of the cookie. When she didn't thank him, he laid into her about saying thank you for what he had given her. He refused to look at the Donkeys at the children's zoo last week. He said they were just small horses. When we watch Rachel Maddow at night, Noah falls asleep. The list went on and on. Before I knew it, I couldn't stop the revelations from coming. They poured through my mind.
Then a huge wave of guilt crushed me. I am his mother. I love him. All of him. I cannot change what Noah has heard us say about Republicans. I can only move forward trusting that we need to love him no matter what. We will follow his lead on this even if we don't understand or agree with his choices.
Maybe this is a phase and in a couple of years we will all laugh about that muggy fall night in 2012 when Noah sat clapping and shouting for Mitt Romney. Maybe, someday, we'll all chomp on arugula with blood pouring from our hearts as we hug trees and laugh about how we thought he was a Republican.